I ate “Bulgar Köfte” for the first time during my trip to North Cyprus a couple of weeks ago and I loved it. It’s a traditional Turkish snack made from a bulgar wheat shell filled with minced beef, onions, parsley and spices. They were so delicious and addictive that I literally fought with my siblings for the last piece!
Whilst my family drank their Turkish coffee outside a cafe in Lefkoşa (or Nicosia), I was in a small kitchen watching the lady chef making the Bulgar Köfte from scratch. I was truly inspired so I attempted to make it over the weekend.
500g minced beef
3 large onions, finely chopped
150g walnuts, crushed into pieces
50g parsley, finely chopped
1 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp paprika
500g bulgar wheat
1 litre of water, boiled
1 tbsp tomato puree
1/2 tsp salt
To make the filling (1 day before): On a large hot frying pan, fry the minced beef over medium-high heat for 15 minutes or until thoroughly cooked. Pour the cooked beef into the sieve to remove excess liquid and then leave it to one side. Use the same pan to fry the chopped onions for 5 minutes, then pour the cooked beef back into the pan, add 1/2 tsp salt and mix well for 10 minutes. Remove the pan from heat, add chopped parsley, crushed walnuts, cayenne pepper and paprika into the beef mixture and then mix well. Once cooled, pour into a sealed container and leave in the fridge over night. This will allow the flavour to mature.
To prepare the bulgar wheat: The bulgar wheat from my local supermarket was not fine enough to make a dough-like texture, so here’s my solution: Pour bulgar wheat into a large heat proof bowl, pour the hot water until it covers the bulgar wheat (10 cms above the surface). Mix in 1/2 tsp salt and 1 tbsp tomato puree which will give shell its golden colour. Allow the bulgar wheat to expand and cool.
Meanwhile, heat up the vegetable oil in a deep sauce pan (must be enough oil to cover the whole Köfte when frying).
Once the bulgar wheat is cooled, pour some into a food processor and blitz until a dough-like texture (You might need to do this two or three sessions at a time). Pour dough onto a clean surface and knead for 5 minutes. Divide the dough into small chucks, about 100g each.
To make the shell: Shape the dough into a ball with your hands. Make a hole using your index finger, spin the ball around with your other hand and carefully shape it into a cup (Think pottery making on a rotating wheel). The wall of the shell should be about 2mm in thickness, the tip is to keep pushing outwards! Pour a big tablespoon of the filling into the shell. To seal the köfte, apply droplets of water around the top and spin the bulgar Köfte with both hands and mould until fully closed.
Check the oil is hot enough by frying a tiny amount of dough, it should sizzle. Carefully fry 1 or 2 köfte at a time until golden brown. Transfer the fried köfte on to a paper towel.
How to eat köfte: Whilst still hot, carefully crack open from the middle, squeeze some fresh lemon/lime juice into the filling and enjoy.